Any meeting between Barack Obama and Dalai Lama would harm US-China relations, says Chinese official
China warns US President Barack Obama not tomeet the Dalai Lama Link to this video
Any meeting between Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama would harm bilateral relations, China warned today while maintaining Beijing's refusal to discuss Tibet'sstatus with the spiritual leader's envoys.
A meeting between him and the US president would "seriously undermine the political foundation of Sino-US relations," said Zhu Weiqun, executive deputy head ofthe Communist party's United Front Work Department in charge of recent talks with the Dalai Lama's representatives.
Zhu said at a news conference that Chinese officials told the envoys Beijing wouldnot make any compromises on its sovereignty over the Himalayan region and that both sides' views remained "sharply divided".
The warning to Obama comes after signals from US officials in recentweeks that Obama might soon meet the exiled Tibetan leader – something Chinese officials are keen to avoid before President Hu Jintao travels to Washington, possibly in April.
Zhu said any arguments thatthe Dalai Lama was just a religious figure were wrong, calling the 1989 Nobel peace prize laureate the "head of a separatist group".
No date for Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama has beenannounced, but White House spokesman Mike Hammer said last month that "the president has made clear to the Chinese government that we intend to meet with the Dalai Lama, it has been his every intention". TheWhite House did not have an immediate comment today.
Bilateral relations have been strained by the US announcement on Friday that it planned to sell $6.4bn (£4bn) of arms to Taiwan.
Beijingquickly suspended military exchanges with Washington and announced an unprecedented threat of sanctions against the US companies involved in the sale.
Zhu did not give any details on what China would do...